Claims of Wikipedia bias have been around for years. But could a marketing company called Wiki-PR make Wikipedia biased in truth?
But Wikipedia is a type of media that is claimed to be open, democratic, and hopefully free of bias (the people behind Conservapedia.com might disagree). But the volunteer administrators of Wikipedia has uncovered a huge network of Wikipedia sockpuppets, which are “online identities used for purposes of deception.”
The interesting part is that the editor named DocTree who noticed this scheme is usually focused on editing pages for “long-dead ornithologists.” But this editor noticed that a group of users seemed to descend on various topics to edit and they’d never disagree. So Wikipedia investigated.
After months of investigating they’ve uncovered one of the largest sockpuppet networks in Wikipedia history, confirming 323 user accounts to be under the control of a small number of individuals. Wikipedia also suspects an additional 84 user account. As a comparison, the second largest sockpuppet network included 236 suspected and 249 confirmed accounts. DocTree, the editor who started the investigation, says this is “just the tip of the iceberg.”
Some PR companies will openly brag about their work even though Wikipedia doesn’t endorse or condone their methods. These reports noted that many companies claim to have worked with web marketing company Wiki-PR, which claims to have a “staff of 45 Wikipedia editors and admins [who] help you build a page that stands up to the scrutiny of Wikipedia’s community rules and guidelines.” Wiki-PR clients include major companies like Viacom and Priceline. Wiki-PR even claims to employ Wikipedia admins, the trusted people who are supposed to oversee all of Wikipedia.
One of the Wikipedia’s admins named Kevin Gorman is concerned Wiki-PR may subvert the intention of Wikipedia with marketing:
“I don’t give two sh*ts if they write articles about websites that sell erectile dysfunction pills—they’re immediately obvious to the casual user as lame spam. I’m much more worried about what happens when an unethical outfit manages to start getting major clients, and start controlling articles that our average reader assumes are not written by corporate flacks. Wiki-PR is over that threshold at this point.”
But one unnamed Wiki-PR customer says these concerns are misplaced:
“I know [Wikipedia has] editors where they read stuff to make sure it’s valid. That should be the gatekeeper, not who published it … Wikipedia seems like it’d be better off with more people contributing. It’s not like we put a page up that lied about us or had false claims.”
Jason Fox, former freelancer at Wiki-PR, seems to think any Wikipedia bias he may have introduced would be limited. He recalls his work at Wiki-PR being “just lots of boring content about boring companies. It was sincerely the dullest copy editing I’ve ever experienced.”
Do you think Wik-PR could make Wikipedia biased or do you think their marketing product is legitimate assuming accuracy?